Research notes – Beneath the surface

The following comments are made on the blog entry “Beneath the Surface” at the We Are OCA website (1)

The blog entry provides a good introductory analysis of Jeff Wall’s Insomnia (link) (2). To me, and without having had the advantage of looking at the original, there are a number of allegorical elements inserted by Wall in the image that are worth mentioning. At the centre of the scene we have a table, and on top of it we have what appears to be an ashtray and next to it a salt shaker. Right behind it, we have the cooker with a pan on and, what appears to be a plate with butter next to a mini oven. There are some studies that link a diet rich in salt with sleeping problems (3), while smoking can also cause insomnia given that nicotine is a stimulant (4). Butter usually is associated with rich foods and these are also associated with insomnia (4). I wonder if Wall’s inclusion of all these elements was meant to signify that in many cases our health problems are self-inflicted, product of our lifestyles…Or it may also be that I am simply reading this based on my own experience: I do not normally suffer from insomnia, but in recent weeks I have made a conscious decision to change certain bad habits that I suspected of causing me health difficulties.

(1) #weareoca. 2018. Beneath the surface. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].

(2) Tate. 2018. Jeff Wall: room guide, room 6 | Tate . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].

(3) The Paleo Diet™. 2018. Easy With That Salt Shaker: The Effect of Dietary Salt On Sleep . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].

(4) What Causes Insomnia? – Insomnia. 2018. What Causes Insomnia? – Insomnia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 April 2018].


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